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Sean Monahan on verge of history with Flames

Center one goal shy of becoming youngest to reach 100 for Calgary

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, usually a quiet presence within the locker room, is on the verge of making a strong statement on the ice.

Monahan, 22 years, 115 days old and in his fourth NHL season, is one goal from becoming the youngest player in the Flames history to reach 100. He can set the record when Calgary plays the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (2 p.m. ET; SN360, MSG, NHL.TV).

When Monahan scores his 100th goal, he'll become the 20th player to reach that milestone in Calgary history. Joe Nieuwendyk was 22 years, 185 days old when he scored his 100th goal with the Flames to become the youngest to 100 on March 14, 1989. Calgary entered the League in 1980.

Video: CGY@NJD: Monahan goes bar-down to open the scoring

"It would obviously be cool to be with those names at the top of the list but to me it doesn't matter," Monahan said. "This is a team game and when you play with good players and get an opportunity like I have, if you're not producing, you're not going to get those chances. So I give a lot of credit to the people I play with who have helped me get to that area."

It was a mark that didn't seem attainable early this season for Monahan when he struggled with five goals in 24 games. But funny what a little confidence and increased shot total will do for the psyche, and the offense.

"I think I've just been playing better; moving my feet more, playing with more confidence," Monahan said. "I didn't have a great start to the season and that was frustrating but when you stick with it and get back to your game it feels better out there. I'm getting a lot more looks and chances."

In the opening 24 games, he was averaging 1.87 shots and had eight points. Since Nov. 28, he is averaging 2.96 shots, and has 14 goals and 12 assists in 30 games.

"I thought Monahan has been trying to do things the right way for a long time and we talked to him a little bit about just shooting the puck and going to the hard areas more," Flames coach Glen Gulutzen said. "He's shooting and getting rebounds. He has a great shot so he's done the right thing for a long period of time and now he's getting rewarded."

Monahan has averaged 3.80 shots and has scored nine goals in the past 10 games. He's also benefitted playing with skilled linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Troy Brouwer.

"It's only been a couple of games but it's been good," Monahan said. "Me and Johnny played together for two years and [Brouwer] is a big veteran who can skate and shoot, so it works out well. We have to continue to build as a line."

Video: MIN@CGY: Monahan scores his second PPG of the game

Gaudreau, who has 11 goals and 23 assists in 44 games, isn't surprised that Monahan is closing in on such a prestigious mark.

"He's got an unbelievable shot, and when he finds that open slot area in the offensive zone you always try to get him the puck as much as possible," Gaudreau said. "When you get him the puck in that situation he finds the net most of the time. It'll be a great accomplishment for him for sure and we're all happy and excited to see him get it."

Monahan is turning out to be one of the best bargains of the 2013 NHL Draft. Selected No. 6 by the Flames, he leads all players chosen in his draft class with 99 goals in 291 games. His closest competition is Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (70 goals in 266 games).

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning is the only active player to score 100 NHL goals before turning 21 (20 years, 316 days) and the sixth in history (Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Dale Hawerchuk, Ilya Kovalchuk).

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was 21 years, 72 days when he scored his 100th, and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was 22 years, 26 days.

The Flames were in need of a top-line center entering the 2013 draft and Monahan was available with their first-round pick.

"I saw a real smart and skilled player who had a team first attitude," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said. "The Ottawa 67's [of the Ontario Hockey League] weren't very good that year but he never asked to be traded and played when he was hurt even if it could have negatively affected his draft status. We had gone numerous years, after Craig Conroy, without a top center."  

Since his rookie season in 2013-14, Monahan ranks 17th in the League in goals and is one shy of Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (100 goals).

Monahan, a Brampton, Ontario native, has certainly been impactful.

"When we interviewed [Monahan] at the NHL Scouting Combine, it simply confirmed what we saw on the ice and the information, with the people we talked to, had given us during the process of putting his off-ice profile together," Button said. "We were very pleased to get him out of that strong draft class."

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